The SOTA Management Team has recognised that the General Rules document was in need of some review and updating. Firstly, there was the issue that there was a contradiction. The General Rules specified a minimum vertical separation/prominence of 150m for all summits in the Programme. A higher prominence parameter could be used if appropriate, but 150m was the minimum. However, there were already four associations (HA, OE, SV and ZS) accepted into
the Programme using a prominence of 100m. Furthermore, there were two associations (DM and DL) accepted into the Programme, that while having a prominence figure of 150m, also had a clause which allowed subjective addition of summits not meeting that criteria. Reasons for the initial acceptance of ARMs with other than a strictly enforced P150 are varied, but all decisions were taken, at the various points in time, with the future success of SOTA in mind.
The SOTA MT has worked hard to create a reasonable and robust set of rules for SOTA. With 17 operational associations and a further 14 countries wishing to take part, any inconsistencies in the General Rules needed to be addressed now. The rule changes are the result of lengthy, considered discussion amongst the MT and Association Manager community. As a fundamental part of the General Rules it was important to get it right.
With the wide range of topology between associations there can never be a level playing field with regard to scoring and the level of difficulty between one country and another. The SOTA Management Team decided that the current situation was unacceptable. All summits in the Programme must be separated by a sufficiently low saddle, and the General Rules must not include contradictions that could make member associations appear to be in breach of these rules. It should be pointed out, that none of the above associations
were at any time in breach of the rules; the General Rules document itself contained contradictions, and of course the associations were all formerly accepted by the SOTA Management Team. Accordingly, all chaser, activator and SWL points already accrued from summits to be reviewed, will remain unchanged,
and may still be earned up to the date of any change.
General Rules 3.5.1 and 3.5.2 have thus been amended as follows:
The Association must have sufficient topology to enable meaningful Summits to be defined. The SOTA Management Team recommends a minimum prominence for summits of 150m. The minimum association prominence that can be accepted in the
Programme is 100m. In the event that this rule cannot be met, the Entity or Subdivision will, unfortunately, be unable to participate in SOTA. Prospective associations wishing to use a prominence of less than 150m will need to be able to offer sound justification for their preferred value, and be able to demonstrate how the use of a lower prominence value will significantly add to the viability of a prospective association.
Summits should be distinct peaks. This means that there must be a vertical separation of at least the association’s prominence value, between Summits and their associated cols (also known as saddles). Peaks separated by a shallow col
should be considered as a single Summit. This principle ensures that there is a distinct climb associated with every Summit.
*It is expected that it will be a couple of weeks before the updated General Rules document is uploaded onto the website, due to the individual commitments of the MT members responsible.
So, in effect, what does this mean?
Well, firstly, and perhaps most importantly, the minimum prominence for any association in the programme is set at 100m. This removes the problem of the HA, OE, SV and ZS associations appearing to be at odds with the General Rules
document. The alternative of setting a Programme-wide minimum of P150 was investigated, and we concluded that this was both impractical and unfair for the existing and accepted P100 associations. The question therefore arises
about an individual association wishing to change its existing prominence parameter. This may only be done by representation from the Association Manager, offering a compelling case for such, and then only with the agreement
of the SOTA Management Team.
It also means that additional subjective criteria - such as that which currently appears in the DL and DM Association Reference Manuals - is no longer permitted. We are looking at the end of th e current year (31.12.08) as the target date by which ARMs should be revised and updated.
Concern has been expressed that losing these summits will “destroy” SOTA in Germany. For illustrative purposes, we present the following comparative analysis of the G and DM associations (the two most active associations in SOTA):
DM - 3176
G - 179
DM - 357022 (includes DL as well)
G - 130410
Active participants (2007)
DM - 129
G - 154
So currently, DM, with an area less than 3 times that of England, has over 17 times as many summits. Obviously, DM is a more hilly/mountainous region than G - that will always be the case. But, clearly, it will still have lots of
summits, many times more than England, even if it applies a strict Prominence rule. And we can see that England, with just 179 summits, is still a most viable, active and successful association, so the argument that the loss of non-prominence summits will ruin DM SOTA, is not accepted by the SOTA Management Team.
We believe that after many weeks of hard work, and consultation with every Association Manager, we have come up with the right balance, the removal of inconsistencies and anomolies, and a revised and robust set of General Rules
that will enhance and support the continued international growth of the Programme. That fact that the changes might appear to be subtle and minimal reflects only on the existing strengths, and not at all on the considerable level of energy and time we have all committed to this process.
Thank you for your patience.
Tom Read M1EYP
on behalf of the SOTA Management Team